Has mobile created a new marketing moment of truth?

Discussion
Oct 05, 2015
Tom Ryan

In what some observers are equating to the next evolution of marketing’s "moment of truth," Google has come up with a new term, "micro-moments," to define how the omni-presence of mobile devices is redefining the consumer’s journey.

In a new report, "Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile," Google pointed to findings showing that over two-thirds of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning and that 87 percent always have their smartphone at their side — even while they sleep — as evidence of how mobile devices are "transforming our lives, whether we actively notice it or not."

With the average user checking their phone 150 times a day, devices are helping people continually learn or discover new things, manage to-do lists, tackle problems and get inspired.

For retailers and brands, many of the day’s countless mobile sessions (the average lasts one minute and 10 seconds) are not moments to engage. However, when mobile users need help informing their choices or making decisions, brands have a broad opportunity.

Micro moments diagram

Source: Google

"We call these micro-moments," Google writes in its study. "They’re the moments when we turn to a device — often a smartphone — to take action on whatever we need or want right now. These I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-do moments are loaded with intent, context, and immediacy."

The big difference versus similar desktop excursions in the past is that mobile devices enable consumers to make informed decisions faster than ever. Google writes, "Since we can take action on any need or curiosity at any time, the consumer decision journey has been fractured into hundreds of tiny decision-making moments at every stage of the "funnel" — from inspiring vacation plans to buying a new blender to learning how to install that new shelf."

Also, more extensive pre-trip research tied to mobile use is making shoppers more efficient. While foot traffic declined at physical retail last year, consumers spent more per visit, "because they’ve done their research and made decisions before ever walking in."

Time spent per visit on mobile devices as well as via websites using a desktop or laptop also declined last year but conversion on both were up for the same reasons.

Google’s study offered several tips for brands to address mobile users’ needs with real-time relevant engagement. Google wrote, "In many ways, micro-moments have become the footsteps that lead people to your store or desktop site."

Do you see “micro-moments” replacing or altering the “moment of truth”? Are micro-moments an accurate depiction of how mobile is affecting the consumer’s journey?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"If the content and easy access to information are curated and facilitated by the brand, the experience can become richer between brand and customer. Otherwise, the brands will be further abstracted and removed from the customer journey."
"Over time, as manufacturer brands and retailers learn how to effectively leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices to engage with shoppers there’s no doubt in my mind that these micro-moments will increase and they will change the path to purchase in new and exciting ways."

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24 Comments on "Has mobile created a new marketing moment of truth?"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Good call by Google. By defining moments, as opposed to one moment, they paint a more accurate picture of consumer habits. The question now is, how can brands capitalize on these moments? Barraging consumers with mobile messages is not the answer. Interactions should be complementary to the search, not a push to sell. And this is where so many brands fall short. There is no easy answer, but as pundits and studies have been saying for years, brands should be testing mobile to find out what works best, and does not work, with consumers.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

First of all, this study doesn’t say anything from a shopper’s perspective, it’s all from a marketing organization’s perspective. There is no evidence presented that shoppers do much of this, an issue I discussed last week in a paper for ESOMAR (world research organization) Congress. Yes, mobile makes it easier if I’m sitting in a store and want answers or comparative prices. How often does that happen? Not much.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Today’s “purchase” is a process, not an event.

“Moment of truth” was a term used to describe the purchase decision made in the last three feet in the store aisle. The major difference with today’s shoppers is that 80 percent-plus have researched multiple places online before ever coming to a store.

Google’s quote is absolutely right on the money: ” … micro-moments have become the footsteps that lead” to a final decision to purchase, online or in-store.

Joan Treistman
Guest
4 years 3 months ago
I still believe you have to know your consumer before isolating and affecting the “journey.” Google teamed with Forrester and so they can provide a view of consumer behavior and the marketer’s perspective. It’s not clear that there is a point of intersection, much less a series of “micro-moments.” Marketers are still working on how to best connect with consumers via mobile devices. Levels of sophistication, understanding and dedication among marketers are quite diverse, maybe random. And I suppose that’s true among consumers as well. I recognize that there are opportunities to leverage a consumer’s engagement with their mobile device to align with a marketing strategy before and once in the store. However, it seems there is still much to learn about consumers and what they want in terms of information for particular categories. Relying on the fact that people look at their devices very often during the day doesn’t mean that they will pay attention to or be receptive to the messages that appear. But “don’t stop believing” and trying to grab attention at… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

It’s so good to see that we’re still coming up with new industry terms to keep the excitement going. Now we have “micro-moments”! Personally, I believe we need to start thinking that the consumer IS the channel. Not multi-channel, omnichannel, micro-moments of truth, or even “mobile.” Channel = customer (consumer, that is). And merchants, marketers and brands need to be agile enough to respond to real-time trends in every channel to drive new growth and leverage differentiation effectively. I don’t think any terms need to be replaced, we just need to look at the consumer as the channel, regardless of how we reach them.

Ed Dunn
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Moment of Truth is a theory — micro-moments are real and measurable. I believe micro-moments are driven by Big Data, not mobile. We witness several instances where a Twitter trending topic turned into an instant crowdfunding success.

Mobile is only one of the “reactions” to the micro-moment. A micro-moment can happen on a Jumbotron in Times Square, a ticker tape weather announcement at the airport or looking up a brand that a celebrity was wearing at an awards show. I believe Big Data is the driver of micro-moments and mobile is just one of the ways to react.

Ian Percy
Guest
4 years 3 months ago
A very encouraging article … slowly how the universe works is coming into focus. Moments of truth are eternal, we are not creating them. We are just beginning to become aware. Let’s get a little quantum here in putting together what seem to be contradictory concepts. First: It’s all ONE thing. Second, all the minute parts of that One thing are themselves the One thing. A fractal universe in other words. Every “micro-moment” reflects the whole or all you have is chaos and disintegration. In this space I’ve often used the term “points of energy” which, based on this article, seem like the same thing as micro-moments. They are living things. Before the customer even thinks about going shopping online or off-line energetic micro-moments are shaping the experience. What Google seems intent on doing is making us aware of that. All of us who respond to this item today are acting out the point of the article — we’re connecting to micro-moments resulting in whatever response we give. And it doesn’t stop when you hit “send… Read more »
Brian Kelly
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

ZMOT was a sales prompt. Google marketing itself in order to sell ads. Drafting off P&G was brilliant. Who wanted to be left out? The “book” became a best seller.

Recently Rob Norman from Group M put forth that app use will become a surrogate of brand preference. As few as 10 apps on the phone capture user time. Therefore search use will fall.

This Forrester “research” feels like ZMOT redux with all the credibility of a third party. Need to shore up those comp sales!

Or as we also like to say, “digital ad sales ain’t for sissies!”

Mark Burr
Guest
4 years 3 months ago
I was particularly caught by Mr. Percy’s comments: “All of us who respond to this item today are acting out the point of the article we’re connecting to micro-moments resulting in whatever response we give. And it doesn’t stop when you hit ‘send comment.’ Your submission is all part of how you’re connecting to your entire universe. What makes us write is what makes us shop.” Maybe. What makes us write here is that at some point we became engaged, our interest was piqued, we were rewarded, and we developed relationships. In my case, life-changing relationships. We have a mutually rewarding experience here that we come back time and again. The reality is that in every potential digital experience I have, that is, when a retailer obtains my email and begins to attempt to engage me, my first inclination is to hit the delete key. Each day I get an email from a couple websites including RetailWire.com, and nine out of 10 times I look at it even if I can’t respond. However, for Brooks… Read more »
Doug Garnett
Guest
Doug Garnett
4 years 3 months ago

Once again we are presented with a broad theory of “massive change” and some theorizing to support it. But we need to remember some very critical things.

Twenty years ago we were told the airplane seatback was one of the most valuable advertising properties around. Why? Because consumers were forced to spend time looking at it. Now, 20 years later … for exactly the reason we were told it was powerful, the seatback turns out to be kind of a bust (oh, a few things work — but not many).

So Google tells us that people check their phones first thing in the morning. Duh. I agree. But does that have any inherent advertising value? Based on an extensive history of failed new media promises based on this identical theory we should be extraordinarily skeptical. And we should remember: Mobile’s primary power is through traditional browsers (e.g. Safari) on mobile devices.

And micro-moments? They have as much value as the fantasy advertising in Max Headroom’s blipverts that were all the rage in the 1980s …

Peter Charness
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

That “moment of truth,” whether it is pressing buy on the cart (instead of abandoning it) or taking an item to the POS, still exists. Until the “buy” is confirmed and that credit card tendered it’s all still a journey on the path to purchase.

These micro-moments though are nice little nudges and possibly useful incentives to move a shopper along to that final decision point. If you consider some of the statistics floating around that over 50 percent (quick someone find a better statistic) of all purchase decisions start online, coupled with the percentage of shopping/research that takes place on a mobile device, it becomes pretty clear that micro-moments are critical.

Replacement, not necessarily. Supporting actors, yes.

Debbie Hauss
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

These micro-moments definitely are altering the research and decision-making process for consumers. Retailers should be considering this as they formulate customer engagement strategies. Two key questions are: What are the types of content that are going to resonate with shoppers in these brief periods of time? How can we direct shoppers to other channels where they will spend more time and eventually complete a purchase?

Frank Beurskens
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Beginning to think that concepts like mcro-moments are still remnants of post-industrial, pre-networked thought; a world that gave us terms like economy of scale, shopping malls, and mega-brands, all pretending some aspect of [centralized] control. As the final CPG quote expressed in the Forrester article, “…our strategy is not customer-driven.”

Customer driven demands easy access, content depth, transparency, anything to help me know, when I want, where I want… (don’t forget in-store). Isn’t it about availability, access, and an element of fun, but the shopper controls it all? The AdAge article states “Orient a single view of the customer and all of the moments you need to guide their journey.”

Single view? Guide “their” journey? Micro-moments may still be old stuff.

Michael Greenberg
Guest
Michael Greenberg
4 years 3 months ago

This is a good framework for what’s been happening for years. The delay between thought and action has dropped to virtually zero…which means there are many more independent, discrete actions in the course of a consumer’s day. Just a few years ago you had to save them up until you were in front of a PC. No longer.

As someone who is reengineering fundamental retail processes for mobile, I can tell you this is not an easy transition to make.

Matt Schmitt
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Google’s research is good, but it is also self-serving (duh!) in that it reinforces the idea that consumers are going to use a path of research and decision making that is more web-centric and somewhat abstracted from direct brand connection. It may very well be true that consumers want to search, review, compare, etc. across brand and product options. However, what about those moments where the consumer knows (and likes) a particular brand and is looking to engage directly with the brand as they navigate these moments across channels and touchpoints?

I believe there are opportunities for brands to do much more to engage consumers, whether these are brand fans/followers or potential customers who have yet to be solidly “sold” on the brand and products.

Be it online, on-the-go, or in-store, brands should create micro-moment opportunities for customers. If the content and easy access to information are curated and facilitated by the brand, the experience can become richer between brand and customer. Otherwise, the brands will be further abstracted and removed from the customer journey.

Jeff Hall
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Respecting the ongoing debate of how marketers can best meet the needs of consumers using mobile devices, the one takeaway this study highlights is just how frequently consumers are checking their devices over the course of a day, and in this context, the continued rise of mobile’s role in informing and supporting the full spectrum of need states, from awareness through pre-purchase research and on and on….

As an aside, it is interesting that today’s poll is evenly split on whether micro-moments drive greater sales through stores or online. The consensus would seem to say these moments are impacting and driving both, through more informed consumers.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
4 years 3 months ago

Google can deliver advertisements within the context of search and also within YouTube, Gmail, Maps, and as “display” advertisements within content sites.

Planning when, where, how, why, who and what to display, to push someone along in a journey, like someone who has been reading about Caribbean Islands, who owns a pet (and is concerned about pet care) and cares for an aging parent (again because of the content they’ve been reading) on that particularly cold day, but who lacks the beach fitness and beachwear, is the problem that is being discussed. How does one deliver relevant messages while someone is in the soup of digital living?

The study basically says, do more in-depth research—yet they only did four interviews for the study. This was a check the box research report vs a real attempt to advance the industry and hopefully Googles team will go back and do it again, aka perpetual beta. Get more money Google team, and do it again. That’s my qualitative blurt/nugget.

James Tenser
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Bravo, Ian, for your reference to the “fractal” nature of marketing moments. What a fantastic insight.

Following your notion and applying a bit of poetic license: Within each instant it may be possible to glimpse the entire shopper universe, if we know how to look.

Taken collectively, all these “micro-moments” may indeed add up to genuine, meaningful influence that can be activated at the shelf or on the web site.

We have a long way to go, however, in learning how to assign the right “weight” to each of these instants in shoppers’ lives. For Google, and others who would like to find ways to monetize these moments, that remains an immense Big-Data hurdle.

Maybe it’s time to abandon the notion of the customer journey. It is way too linear a concept. It leads to deterministic thinking. Mobile experiences are too numerous, too varied, and too fleeting to link individually to a specific outcome. The only analyses that make any sense are probabilistic (“quantum”) and cumulative (“meta”) in nature.

Matt Talbot
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

I think most retailers and brands are aware of mobile tech—at least that the amount of time consumers spend on mobile devices—is generally increasing, and the use/creation of mobile devices is on the rise. That being said, retailers and brands need to understand consumer behavior with regard to mobile, in order to fully optimize revenue and sales.

“Micro-moments” seem like a great way to describe how mobile is relevant to the buyer’s journey. Shopping behavior probably mimics how many consumers use their phones within their personal life—quick checks looking for relevant updates. If brands, retailers and distributors wish to provide content optimized for “micro-moments,” it needs to be clean, concise and hard-hitting. The “micro-moments” don’t need to push a final sale, but be indirect small hints to help shoppers move to the desired final purchase.

Also, what I find particularly useful about “micro-moments” is that data can be collected surrounding time spent/click rate/conversion rate to determine effectiveness. I’m looking forward to more research surrounding “micro-moments.”

Kenneth Leung
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Mobile is creating points of distraction and focus in the consumer shopper journey. Technically, the moment of truth is better than that single moment because modern consumers can add to the basket and change their mind many times along the journey. I find myself deciding to put things in the Amazon basket and sit for a bit before hitting the purchase button. Reality is mobility and E-commerce allow consumers to shop regardless of physical location, which is what throws off traditional “moment of truth” discussions.

Graeme McVie
Guest
Graeme McVie
4 years 3 months ago

Micro-moments have their place in the consumer purchase decision process, but their impact will vary depending on the type of product being purchased and the shoppers circumstances. Smaller purchase amounts and products that lend themselves to impulse purchases will be greatly affected by micro-moments. Larger purchases that require more consideration would not necessarily lend themselves as readily to mobile as to web browsing via PC. High repeat, low consideration products will likely be impacted by electronic offers delivered via mobile, but the offers will have to be highly relevant and timely.

Over time, as manufacturer brands and retailers learn how to effectively leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices to engage with shoppers there’s no doubt in my mind that these micro-moments will increase and they will change the path to purchase in new and exciting ways.

Arie Shpanya
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

I completely agree that “micro-moments” are the present and future of retail purchases. I think this needs to be the final wake up call for retailers that they need to be mobile optimized. Yes, this means that many retailers have a ton of work to do, but having multiple brand interactions before a purchase means that retailers must be on their A-game on each and every channel. It’s time for retailers to have a consistent brand experience, so that shoppers will make it to checkout.

Gary Hawkins
Guest
Gary Hawkins
4 years 3 months ago

No question that mobile and “micro-moments” are opportunities to influence the shopper’s journey but any messaging must be contextually relevant to the individual shopper, otherwise it is spam. And spam will not be tolerated on mobile. Many marketers are getting better at location relevant messaging both in and out of the store but they are failing to move beyond that to the individual shopper. Just because I am near the cookie category does not mean that an offer on Oreo cookies is relevant to me.

Being contextually relevant to the individual shopper is the secret sauce for mobile success. Done right its incredibly powerful. Do it wrong and shoppers will literally turn you off.

Jonathan Hinz
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

“Micro-moments” differ from the “moment of truth” in one important way: they’re part of a continuous cycle of brand engagement. As such, they define today’s consumer journey through a series of messages, data and user perspectives never experienced before. A consumer may be introduced to a particular brand via a banner ad, skip over to the website, read a review, receive an email newsletter, maybe an SMS promotion, then see a friend’s social media post about a product she purchased from that brand before they make the decision to buy. It’s not one moment; it’s a series of moments that create consumer awareness, interest and brand trust.

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Braintrust
"If the content and easy access to information are curated and facilitated by the brand, the experience can become richer between brand and customer. Otherwise, the brands will be further abstracted and removed from the customer journey."
"Over time, as manufacturer brands and retailers learn how to effectively leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices to engage with shoppers there’s no doubt in my mind that these micro-moments will increase and they will change the path to purchase in new and exciting ways."

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